Drivers keep to themselves during test
NASCAR’s two-day spoiler test at Charlotte Motor Speedway was of greater benefit to individual teams then to the community as a whole.
Fans and competitors that waited for packs to materialize to glean how cars would react while running side-by-side at high rates of speed will have to wait until the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway when the Sprint Cup Series moves to a mile-and-a-half track.
For Carl Edwards, searching for speed for the No. 99 Ford was enough of a challenge without trying to simulate packs on the track. Edwards ran outside the top 35 speeds in the first three sessions. By Wednesday afternoon, Edwards had moved up to 20th (179.760 mph). Considering it’s been 41 races since Edwards won, getting his own house in order is the first priority.
“That throws in another dimension and set of variables that you can’t really control,” Edwards said of running in packs. “Testing is difficult enough to figure out. If you go out here and run three laps, you come in and you make a change. Then you go back out to determine what that change did. That’s difficult enough.
“To go run in a pack, there’s a lot of variables going on there with the air, so you might get a little experience, but you most likely wasted a run because you can’t tell if what you did was helping you or if it was the air helping you. So I think that’s why. When you’re testing, you need to keep the variables you can control under control.”
Jimmie Johnson, who won the fall race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and was second fastest in the afternoon practice, would have welcomed the opportunity to drive beside his competitors just to get a feel for what’s going on with the spoiler. With NASCAR’s virtual freeze on testing, the last two days offered teams the opportunity to experiment with a lot of variables at an intermediate track.
“We typically stay away from each other on tracks like this without having the full-time spotters and everything on the truck just from a safety standpoint,” Johnson said. “Personally, I would like to find out more about my car in traffic from someone close to me and how it may affect the car.
“It's not going to be huge, but the first race or two there might be an opportunity at some of the bigger tracks. If you understand the car before anyone else does, you can put someone in a horrible spot and take advantage of them.”
The Earnhardt Childress Racing engines of Jeff Burton (189.215 mph), Kevin Harvick (187.885 mph) and Juan Pablo Montoya (186.516 mph) were fastest Wednesday morning. The two Richard Childress cars were sporting qualifying packages.
NEED FOR SPEED
AJ Allmendinger was on a mission this week at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Although it’s hard to believe, last year was the first full season for the Richard Petty Motorsports racer in the Cup Series. And with the testing ban coming to fruition following the 2008 season, Allmendinger hasn’t had the opportunity to run the laps and craft his skills as many other drivers did before him.
So for the driver of the No. 43 Ford, the last couple of days was spent gathering information from his fellow Roush/Petty drivers and honing his skills on the intermediate track. After posting the top speed in the afternoon test — 183.943 — it was clear his work had paid off.
“I’ve been judging my laps off of Kasey (Kahne), Paul (Menard) and Elliott (Sadler),” Allmendinger said. “I haven’t been able to test much. So to be able to compare data, has helped a lot. It’s easy to look at your own data but you have nothing to judge off anybody else.
“Kasey is so good here I can focus on what he’s doing and improve my own line. Paul’s doing well, too. Looking at all the comparative data is a good thing.”
It wasn’t enough for Travis Kvapil to test the No. 34 Ford over the last two days. Kvapil and the team packed up after the morning test session on Wednesday to work on his Martinsville car for this weekend.
“I just want to be there for the final set-up for the final run on the pull-down rig. I want to take the opportunity to see what’s under the car before we race this weekend,” Kvapil said. “Any input I have puts us one step ahead rather than trying to learn it at the track.”
After not having a full-time Cup ride in 2009, Kvapil added he’s determined to spring his Front Row Motorsports team up to speed. After Bristol, Kvapil is 34th in points.
“I think Denny (Hamlin) wasn’t happy with his package,” said David Reutimann, speaking of his fellow Toyota drivers' responses to the current engines.
Reutimann has posted two consecutive engine-related DNF’s at Bristol and Atlanta.